Holistic Cyber Monday Deals: Subscription Boxes, Green Beauty, and More

Photo credit: twicepix / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: twicepix / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Is your credit card crying yet? I must admit that I’m feeling a little exhausted by all of the shopping frenzy that seemed unavoidable these past few days, even though I’ve only been to the grocery store in that time. I do appreciate the opportunity to save money on purchases that we have been waiting to make. There are some great deals to be had on everything from appliances to winter outerwear. It’s also a good time to stretch your dollar and bring healthier products into your home or the homes of others at a more manageable price. I wanted to highlight a few more deals that end today.

Subscription Box Deals:

Once again, I love crunchy-friendly subscription boxes. I think that they make great gifts or gifts-to-self. Most of the following subscriptions are all featured on my Ultimate Guide to Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. You can find out more about each one there. Some will be added to my Winter update very soon (keep an eye out for that).

1. Mindfulness Box is offering 20% off of everything in their online store and off of subscription purchases with the code GRATITUDE20. See reviews of past Mindfulness Boxes here.

2. Goddess Provisions is offering 15% off subscriptions for first time subscribers with code magic15. Subscriptions will renew at regular price. Expires on Dec 1. They also have stocked a few of their first two boxes in their shop if you missed out. See reviews of the past Goddess Provisions boxes here.

3. Vegan Cuts is offering up to 20% off their snack and beauty subscription boxes as well as bonus gifts through the link provided (no code needed).

4. Love with Food is offering 15% off all subscriptions as well as bonuses for multi-month subscription purchases (see link for details).

5. Send Me Gluten Free is offering 20% off a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription using coupon code CYBERMONDAY20.

6. Mystical Mojo Box is offering an array of Cyber Monday deals with the following codes: CMMEGA = 27% off Mega Mojo Boxes; CMMOJO = 22% off Mojo Boxes; CMCRYSTAL = 18% off Crystal Mojo Boxes; CMTAROT = 18% off Tarot Readings.

7. Yogi Surprise is offering 40% off your first jewelry box with code JEWELRY15.

Green Beauty Deals:

1. Devine Beauty Emporium (the sister site to PureBox) is having a Cyber Monday sale with the code DEVINE10. Buy $100, get $10 off. Buy $200, get $30 off. Buy $300, get $50 off.

2. Lauren Brooke Cosmétiques is offering 30% off all full-sized products today.

Bonus Deal:

Chico Bag is offering 40% off all orders $50 or more today using code CYBER2015 (excludes sale items).

For additional deals that may still be running through today, check out my earlier holistic Thanksgiving weekend deal posts here and here. If you have any crunchy bargains to share, please let me know in the comments.

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services (and here’s why). They are not endorsements. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure that you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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La Ritzy Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: November 2015

Crunchy Parent La Ritzy Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review November 2015

La Ritzy is a monthly beauty subscription service that sends 4-5 vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic and skincare items in each box. Although not specifically marketed as a green beauty box, the brands that La Ritzy sends have tended to be non-toxic, natural brands. La Ritzy recently ran a promotion offering one month free with a three month subscription. I knew that it was the right time for me to give this subscription a try.

Boxes cost $24.99 per month, which includes U.S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing of the my very first La Ritzy box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

La Ritzy had released spoilers showing what two of the items would be in the November box. I was excited to get my hands on the box and check out everything inside. The box came well-packaged, and everything was received intact.

La Ritzy November vegan green beauty subscription-GlamNatural and Jacq's Organics

La Ritzy included an information card that provided a brief description and valuing information for all items in the box. The first item that caught my eye had been spoiled in the sneak peek. It was a full size of GlamNatural’s Finishing Powder (value $30.00). The natural, super-fine powder is designed to be applied atop one’s makeup to set their look and give lasting wear to cosmetics. I must admit that I tend to neglect this step and then start wish later that I hadn’t. I was glad to be sent this little reminder to take an extra moment to finish off my face in the morning to get more bang for my buck when I do my face.

The next item in the box was a big surprise to me. I was so excited to see the Jacq’s Organics Green Smoothie Scrub and Mask (1 oz., value $17.50). This item has been in other subscription boxes recently but none that I had received and I was coveting it mightily. The mask blends clarifying and detoxifying charcoal, clays, and sea kelp with almond meal for scrubbing and mints, rosemary, geranium and other essential oils to stimulate and cool the skin.

The dry powder is designed to be blended with your liquid(s) of choice, which can be anything from water to honey, yogurt, a hydrating hydrosol, or other nourishing selection. I love dry masks for exactly this reason; they can be catered to your preference and the shelf-stability is prolonged with the absence of liquid, which also eliminates the need for preservatives. I opted for water to try the mask in its purest form. Although I was expecting a green mask based on the name, the charcoal gave it a deep gray/black appearance. I made a relatively thin mix with the water and painted it onto my face with a mask brush (an old, clean foundation brush works well for this step too). Once dried, I rinsed as directed, scrubbing my skin with my hands to get the most out of the almond meal as I rinsed. My skin looked clear, bright, and refreshed after using the mask. I am interested to see how my skin responds to repeated use over time.

La Ritzy vegan beauty box Palmetto Derma and Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques

The next box reveal was the second item from the sneak peek. I was very much looking forward to receiving the full sized Palmetto Derma Collagen Booster & Restoration Serum (value $48.00). The serum is packed with anti-oxidants and hydrating ingredients like aloe and hyaluronic acid. I was surprised by how light and completely odorless the serum was and yet my skin was noticeably more hydrated immediately after I applied. I think that this product will be an excellent addition to my skincare routine this winter layered beneath my skin oil and moisturizers. For those with combination oily skin, I think that the serum would hydrate and nourish the skin without adding oil or shine. As a tip to those who missed out on the box and want to give the product a try, or who received the box and want to stock up on more Palmetto Derma items, the site is offering 30%-50% off all of their items sitewide throughout the cyber weekend shopping extravaganza.

The last item in the box was a full size Pressed Cheek Colour from Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques (value $14.00). I have been using Lauren Brooke products as a natural cosmetic option for about a year and have been very pleased with their ingredients and formulations. I have not tried the cheek colors yet so I look forward to trying this one out. The Sweet Sixteen shade that I received looks like it will be easy to wear and complement many skin tones. Once again, if you are looking to take advantage of sales this weekend, Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques will be offering 30% off of all of their full-sized products for Cyber Monday.

La Ritzy November 2015 vegan natural cosmetic and skincare subscription box unboxing review

I was very pleased with my first La Ritzy box. I liked the mix of skincare and cosmetic items. I am sometimes wary of cosmetic items in boxes because it can be so difficult to appeal to a wide range of skin tones and color preferences. I thought that the cosmetic items included in the box were useful and flattering for most skin tones. Although La Ritzy markets themselves as a vegan beauty box and not necessarily a green beauty box, all items included were from great green beauty brands and were chock-full of organic, natural, and plant-based ingredients. The overall value for the box was $109.50, which is an exceptional value for the box price. I am looking forward to the December box. La Ritzy has already released a spoiler saying that the box will include a vegan, 7-free polish from Trust Fund Beauty.

I continue to delight in the growth of the green beauty industry and its integration into the subscription box world. Two years ago, when I first began to look into subscription boxes there were only a handful of vegan and green options available. In the last quarterly update to my comprehensive list of crunchy-friendly subscription boxes, there were over twenty boxes geared toward green beauty and cruelty-free beauty enthusiasts. I think that this growth speaks volumes about growing consumer awareness and demand for healthier, safer, more conscious beauty and personal care products. It’s exciting to see.

What do you think about La Ritzy? Are you a fan of their vegan cosmetic and skincare hybrid approach? Are you curious to see what will accompany the Trust Fund Beauty polish in the December box? I know that I am.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe!

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Barganic Alert: Holistic Black Friday Through Cyber Monday Deals Continue

I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday. I had a great afternoon and evening with family and good friends. It was particularly special to see all of the little friends and cousins running around and playing together. It brings me great joy to start to make happy memories in our new home.

The deluge of Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals is in full force. I will try to post deals that I think are significant and may be of interest for those looking to make healthier and more natural choices this holiday season and into the new year. Please share any deals that you may find in the comments.

Subscription Box Deals:

You all must know by now that I love crunchy-friendly subscription boxes, and I think that they make great gifts or gifts-to-self. The following subscriptions are all featured on my Ultimate Guide to Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. You can find out more about each one there.

1. Beauty Heroes green beauty subscription is offering 10% off all gift subscriptions with the code CELEBRATE. Deal ends 11/30. See my Beauty Heroes reviews here.

2. La Ritzy vegan green beauty subscription service is offering 40% off your first box for any new subscription using the code BF40 . Deal ends 1/1/2016. I just received my first La Ritzy box this month (review to come) and have been enjoying the mix of skincare and cosmetic items included.

3. Love Goodly green lifestyle subscription box offering 20% off sitewide with code CYBERLOVE.

4. Yogi Surprise yoga lifestyle subscription box offering 25% off regular or jewelry subscriptions with code BLACKFRIDAY today only.

5. Causebox socially conscious lifestyle box offering 10% off subscriptions with code BLACKBOX valid 11/27 only through 11:59pm PST.

6. The Honest Company offering 50% off first subscription bundle with code BUNDLE50

7. Cuisine Cube is offering $10 off your first artisan, vegan, or gluten-free cube with code THANKSCUBE10.

8. Glowing Beets green beauty box is offering 50% off first box to new subscribers with code NEW50 and 30% off all shop purchases of $35+ with code GB30 through 11/30

9. Farm to People offering 20% off sitewide on their small-batch, non-GMO, humanely-raised food products with code blackfriday. Can be used on gift subscriptions (including gifts to self).

10. Healthy Surprise offering 20% off sitewide with code blackfriday25. Includes their gluten-free, GMO-free, and Paleo snack boxes.

Green Beauty:

1. Kahina Giving Beauty offering 20% off entire luxe skincare purchase with code KAHINA20 through 11/30.

2. 100% Pure is offering 40%-65% off on their Black Friday mystery bags. New customers may also qualify for $30 off $60 purchase through link provided. Ends today at 11:59pm PST.

3. W3ll People offering 20% off sitewide and free shipping on their green beauty cosmetic items. Deal runs through 11/30 at 11:59pm PST.

4. S. W. Basics green, natural skincare and body care items are all on sale up to 30% off today only. Use code VIP10 for an additional 10% off your purchase.

5. Birchbox is offering 25% off purchases with code BIGDEAL and 30% off for Aces members with code ACESONLY . Although Birchbox carries conventional beauty brands as well, they have great products from many green beauty brands including One Love Organics, Kahina Giving Beauty, Alima Pure, Inika, 21 Drops, and more.

6. Pharmaca is offering 30% off their health and wellness brands today only with code FRIDAY . Some exclusions apply, but includes great brands like Acure, Eminence Organic, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Motherlove, Pangea Organics, Suki, S. W. Basics, Zhena Gypsy Tea, Plan Toys, and Melissa & Doug.

Toys, Goodies, and Kid Things:

1. Natural Candy Store is offering candy specials on many holiday favorites. Some deals include 15% off gluten free, vegan, organic peppermint bark and 25% off organic English Toffee. As always, all candies are free of food dyes and artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners, and they come highly recommended by the Halloween Fairy.

2. hanna Andersson offering all of their organic cotton longjohns (pajamas) for $20 through cyber weekend (regularly priced at $40-$46). All other items are an additional 15% off online and 25% off in stores.

3. CP Toys is offering 20% off your entire purchase today only with code CPT15TF. Although they carry a range of toys from more natural to more conventional, some of my favorite items include Tree Blocks and child-size tools, perfect for little learning hands to gain skills.

4. Magic Cabin, a popular natural toy resource for Waldorf, Montessori, and open-ended natural toys is offering up to 50% off on a selection of items in their Black Friday collection. Click through the link to see the complete range of items included.

I hope that you find some great deals that allow you to uphold your values without blowing your budget.

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services (and here’s why). They are not endorsements. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure that you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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Barganic Alert: Holistic Thanksgiving Deals Begin

Photo credit: John-Morgan / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: John-Morgan / Foter.com / CC BY

I have been enjoying this week of holiday preparation. The house is still a jumble of partially-unpacked moving boxes and I cannot recall where our china, tablecloths, or serving pieces may be. Fortunately our dinner guests are family members and close friends and they are forgiving souls (who also come bearing food so it helps to lighten the cooking load).

I hope that you are enjoying a day of autumn appreciation, gratitude, parades, good food, family, or however the holiday is meaningful for you. Since Thanksgiving, for better or for worse, often kicks of holiday shopping frenzy, I wanted to share some bargains that have come to my attention that may help you to stretch your dollar as you try to embrace healthy and holistic choices during the holiday season and into the new year.

Laurel WPO Winter Radiance Collection and Thankful Sale

I was first introduced to Laurel Whole Plant Organics at the A Night for Green Beauty event this past summer. The handcrafted, herbally-based skincare uses the highest quality whole plant ingredients to enhance and nourish your skin. Thanksgiving is the one time each year that the small company offers a sitewide sale. All items on the site will be 20% using the code THANKFUL20 at checkout. The sale starts Friday at 6:00pm PST and lasts until Monday at midnight PST. All orders over $100 ship for free. Every person who places an order during the sale will be entered in a raffle to win the last remaining Winter Radiance Collection; a seven-item, limited edition collection valued at $360.

Kloverbox holiday sale

As seen on the Ultimate Guide of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, the green lifestyle subscription service Kloverbox is offering daily discounts for the next few days. The subscription is regularly priced at $25.00/month and sends 4-7 sample and full sized products across the categories of beauty, health, nutrition and home. Starting Black Friday and extending through Sunday, Kloverbox will be offering a 20% discount off of subscriptions of varying lengths, bringing the individual box price down to as low as $18.00/month (no code required). Deals will change daily, so be sure to look for the subscription length that you wish to try and check in on that day.

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services (and here’s why). They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure that you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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Thrift Store Fall Haul: Adventures With My Tween

Crunchy Parent Thrift Store haul for tween or tween girl

Last weekend I finally admitted that the cold weather was here to stay for the season. It was not moment too soon as yesterday the Chicagoland area was blanketed with several inches of snow. Along with the plummeting temperatures came the cold, hard fact that twelve year-old Eva really needed warm clothing that would fit her. I think that she has fully outgrown her wardrobe at least four times in the past year, which is making it a challenge to keep her clothed.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have shopped for the kids’ clothes at children’s consignment sales for many years. I love consignment sales and thrift stores as a way to reduce our carbon footprint and to conserve our family’s financial resources. For us, spending money on healthy food and other wellness choices trumps fashion. I have also found that there are a lot of great clothes to be purchased through resale routes. Kids’ consignment sales are still a great resource for me to find clothes for Alina and Asher, but in the past year Eva has shot up to almost 5’6″ and has really grown beyond the sizes featured at most children’s sales. It is also difficult to buy clothes for her that she cannot try on for fit, and that cannot be returned if they don’t work for her. Clothing resales generally do not allow try-ons or returns.

To solve this lack-of-wardrobe challenge, Eva and I set out last weekend for our old neighborhood to hit the racks at a couple of my favorite thrift stores. The thrift stores that I have found by our new home have been very hit or miss, and I knew that making a day out driving to visit these stores would be a good use of our time. Eva balked a bit at the idea of a long drive to spend hours at thrift stores, but she too was getting tired of trying to get dressed for school each morning without clothing that fit properly.

Our first stop was a privately-owned thrift store that was featuring 50% off of two of their four tag colors on that day. Mind you, three days earlier I had received a text that everything in the store was 50% off, but pulling Eva out of school for a sale seemed irresponsible. I settled for my more modest sale and remaining in good parental standing. I was able to hold Eva’s attention at the jeans racks for a short while before I lost her to the books. I played the role of her personal shopper and loaded up the cart with jeans and tops that I thought that she would like, and then listened to her refrain of “are we almost done?” as I made her try everything on in the dressing room. In the end we left with several pairs of jeans, and a handful of sweaters, as well as a pair of pumps and a few books. I have a shopper card at the store, and although I completely do not understand their rewards program, I apparently had earned a $10 coupon previously which I applied to my purchase. After making this purchase, I earned another $10 coupon for a future visit.

Thrifted tween jeans: Aeropostale, Express, Guess, 7 For All Mankind

Thrifted tween jeans: Aeropostale, Express, Guess, 7 For All Mankind

Our second stop was to a large Goodwill store. Once again, I knew that my timing was not ideal because we were missing their % off tag days, but I was more concerned about getting the errand done than about getting the best deal for this trip. If we lived closer, I might have tried to capitalize on sales. As it turned out, it was student discount day and Eva was offered 10% off at checkout with her student ID (I knew that kid would pay off someday). Goodwill was a layering tee and sweater goldmine. We found another pair of jeans here too, and more books of course, but overall the tops won the day at Goodwill.

By the time we were done we were tired, thirsty, and hungry. The reward for our efforts was a new wardrobe to carry Eva through fall and winter, assuming that she doesn’t grow more by then (which I am not really assuming at all). It was interesting to see her style leanings. She is clearly straddling the worlds of girl and young woman. Her choices ranged from the cute and whimsical, to hipster.

Tween clothes: quirky and bright

Tween clothes: quirky and bright

I must admit that it is fun watching her grow up, and to spend the better part of a day shopping and laughing with her. Eva and I don’t get a lot of one-on-one time together. Even if the time was spent shopping, we still had fun.

Hipster chic: Gap, Halogen, Land's End, and LOFT (aka, "the one with the bacon sleeves.")

Hipster chic: Gap, Halogen, Land’s End, and LOFT (aka, “the one with the bacon sleeves.”)

It total we came home with a lot of great clothes at a fantastic price. There are a few items that I did not include in the photos (books, the pumps, a few new-with-tags camisoles, etc.) but by my count the pictured piles include 5 pairs of jeans, 16 long-sleeve and layering tees, and 16 sweaters, hoodies, and cardigans. Our total for these items, including our discounts and tax was $168 and change, or just over $4.50 per item.

thrift store haul-tops & jeans for tweens and teens

Eva has loved wearing her new-to-her clothes this week. I love that we were able to pull together a whole new wardrobe in a day filled with cute clothes to reflect different aspects of Eva’s personality. I like that we were able to buy it all at prices that don’t put us in debt. I also understand that Eva is at a stage in her life when she could wake up tomorrow having outgrown all of her clothes again, and that spills, stains, and accidents happen. Buying thrifted clothes means that I won’t be upset if these clothes end up being handed down, given away, or if they reach the end of their useful life in our home.

I think that buying previously-worn clothing still carries a stigma in our society where abundance is the norm, and “new” and “expensive” hold status. I also think that unless you are in a trendy-Boho area, the notion of a thrift store often conjures up images tantamount to indigent individuals dumpster-diving for any rags that they can find.

With a family of five, including three growing children who need new clothes every season if not sooner, buying the bulk of our wardrobe through thrift and resales is a lifestyle choice that has a big impact on our budget. These clothes will make up the bulk of what Eva will wear over the next six months. Our total expense for the thirty-seven items was close to the full retail price of one of the single higher-end items in the bunch. In addition, I feel much better from an ecological and social perspective getting more wear out of clothing items that are no longer useful to someone else, and easing the burden on other countries (and their children) to produce clothing for us to buy new, wear, and toss. The items purchased at Goodwill give the organization funds to train people for jobs. Moreover, even with a tween focused on how she looks, and wanting cute, trendy clothes, we were able to pull together great clothes from quality brands, and in very good previously worn condition.

What is your experience with thrift store shopping? Any great finds or tips to share?

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Goddess Provisions Spirit Enhancing Subscription Unboxing & Review: November 2015

Crunchy Parent Goddess Provisions Spirit Enhancing Subscription Unboxing & Review November 2015

Goddess Provisions is a new subscription service, just added to the recent fall update of the Crunchy Parent Ultimate List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. Created by the owners of Vegan Cuts, Goddess Provisions is a monthly lifestyle box for women. They send products to nourish your inner goddess and grow your spiritual practice. Boxes feature a mix of 4-6 full size items, spanning across the categorizes of aromatherapy, apothecary beauty products, superfood snacks, teas, crystals, books and more. All items are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

Boxes cost $33 per month, which includes shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. If you want to see my unboxing of the first-ever Goddess Provisions box from October, look here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing of the November Goddess Provisions box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came well-packaged, and everything was received intact.
Goddess Provisions November subscription box review

As with last month, I loved the bright and informative enclosure card. Goddess Provisions does an exceptional job of highlighting their featured brands and products, as well as weaving the theme into the box. This month’s theme was passion and creativity, and their association with the sacral chakra. The card was a vibrant orange, the color of the sacral chakra.

The box was packed full of goodies. The first item that I spied was a Kishu charcoal filter (value $9.99). This all-natural water filter is designed to be dropped into a reusable water bottle and used for up to four months of water filtration. The filters are made from sustainably harvested oak branches that are kiln heated to transform them into naturally detoxifying charcoal. The brand makes their filters in several sizes to use in pitchers, jugs, carafes, and even a pet’s water dish. I think that the concept of a natural and plastic-free water filter is a great one. I have never seen anything like this product before and am excited to give it a try.

I was also excited to see the next item in the box, 100% Pure’s Maraca Oil Mascara (value $25.00). As with all items in Goddess Provisions boxes, the mascara is vegan, and it also happens to be gluten free and colored naturally with a blend of black tea, berry, and cocoa pigments. I had kind of written off mascara for about ten years due to the toxic ingredients that they generally contain, but in more recent years as the green beauty industry and options have grown, I have been experimenting with the more natural mascaras available. I was very happy to receive this. I like the 100% Pure brand and was eager to give this a try. I was surprised by the chocolaty scent of the mascara. I’m not sure if I like the smell or not, but if fades pretty quickly so it isn’t much of an issue. I found that the mascara added a length and thickness to my lashes that looked natural and not clumpy. It was not as dramatic a change as other formulations that I have used, but I kind of liked the more natural looking “enhancement” for an everyday option or times when I want to look fresh but not too heavily made up.

Goddess Provisions vegan spirit box Noveber review

My sweet tooth was all excited about the heart-shaped cranberry pecan raw cookie from Rawxies (value $1.99). The ingredients include oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, dates, vanilla, cinnamon, and more. The cookies are raw, vegan, and free of gluten, dairy, and soy, which is perfect for us. I couldn’t wait to give this cookie bar a try. I think that my expectations may have been too high. I was not a fan. I have eaten a lot of date and nut bars in my day so perhaps I was expecting something sweeter. Maybe a more dedicated raw foodist would have developed a different palette and greater appreciation for the cookie’s flavor.

The next item had been released as a sneak peek item by Goddess Provisions earlier and I was eager to give it a closer look. The Healing Crystals Information Card and Oracle Deck (value $6.95) was even more awesome that I expected it to be. The deck included several cards with information about crystals, their form structures, and the Mohs hardness scale for rating crystals, as well as several cards with information about the seven chakras. The deck also included 47 additional cards, each highlighting a unique crystal with a photo, chakra association, attributes, affirmation, Mohs rating, and more. I even noticed a card for the Vera Cruz amethyst crystal included in last month’s Goddess Provisions box.

I know that I would have loved this deck as a kid and would have poured over it learning about all of the crystals. I think that it would make an excellent homeschooling tool when teaching about crystals, or a gift for any science or spiritually-inclined child or adult. The cards can also be used as an oracle deck for a more metaphysical application.

Goddess Provisions 21 drops essential oil rollerball and red quartz crystal November box unboxing & review

The fifth item had also been released in the earlier spoiler, an essential oil mini rollerball from 21 Drops (.3 ml, value $7.00). The Passion rollerball is a blend of jasmine, rose, cardamom, and sandalwood essential oils is a jojoba oil base. The rollerball is designed to be applied to wrists, temples, or neck and inhaled to bring about a release of inhibitions, and to heighten magnetism and sensuality (oh my!). I found the scent to be feminine and beautiful. On initial application, I smelled the jasmine and rose primarily, but when going back for a second sniff, I could sense the cardamom especially shining through. Cardamom is such a warming herb, and I cannot ever get enough of it in autumn. I think that I will use get lot of use out of this rollerball as a natural perfume option.

Just like last month’s unboxing, I ended with the opening of a tiny drawstring bag. This month I discovered a small crystal point of red quartz, also known as hematite quartz (value $5.00). The crystal features a unique burnt orange color and is associated with the sacral chakra. I am really enjoying building up my collection of crystals large and small through subscription boxes.

Goddess Provisions included a final bonus item that I did not notice until after I completed the unboxing video. The enclosure card listed a code for an online yoga class with instructor Michelle Shea Walker. The yoga sequence was specifically designed to balance the sacral chakra, and had a listed value of $22.00. In the past of couple months I have been increasing my yoga practice at home through online video options such as these. I appreciate this bonus item and cannot wait to give it a try. I am curious to see if it incorporates the crystal in any way.

Goddess Provisions November box unboxing & review organic, natural, vegan goodness

The overall value of the box was $55.93 which does not include the $22.00 value of the online yoga class, since Goddess Provisions designated it as a bonus item. I think that this value is very strong for the purchase price and high for the “spiritual lifestyle” genre of subscription boxes. I loved the mix of items in the box, with food, beauty, body, home, and spirit all represented. With the exception of the one snack item that I just didn’t personally care for, every item will be put to get use by me, by my family, and in our home. I was introduced to a number of new brands or received products from brands that I had been hoping to try. I am very impressed with the two boxes that Goddess Provisions has put together thus far, and am already looking forward to my next month’s box.

As a reminder, you can see my unboxing and review of the first Goddess Provisions box here, and you can go to Goddess Provisions to get your hands on your very own box. Will you be getting in on the December box? I think it would make a great centering gift-to-self during the heightened energy that surrounds holiday time.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes for other great crunchy-friendly subscription or gift deas, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe!

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Lemon Compress: Natural Remedy for Chest Congestion, Sore Throat & Cold Symptoms

Photo credit: Vanilla and lace / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: Vanilla and lace / Foter.com / CC BY

I do not know how the colder weather and darker days are impacting the members of your family, but we here are a seemingly endless chorus of *cough* *cough* and *sniffle.* Once upon a time we did not get sick very often, but with children getting older and branching out into the world more it means increased exposure to germs. With all three of them in school full days for the first time we are also battling increased stress, decreased outdoor and play time, and less sleep. In combination, it is no wonder that we are succumbing to illness more often.

I am always trying to incorporate more ways to bring fresh air, healthy food, and positive wellness practices into our lives. Over the years, I have also tried to gather ideas to address illness and manage symptoms in many ways and representing different schools of thought. This helps me to draw from a great big bag of tricks when a child gets sick.

The idea of a lemon compress to help alleviate sore throat and chest congestion was introduced to me by an anthroposophical doctor who gave a talk at the kids’ Waldorf school over nine years ago. I have used it countless times since, and we have found it to be a gentle and low intervention method that provides symptom relief for the kids. It is also quick and easy to prepare, and one of the many reasons why I always keep fresh lemons in the house.

As a reminder, I am not a medical doctor. I am sharing this information but advise you to consult your own medical practitioner and make your own decision before adopting any new health practice.

For your lemon compress you will need:

a lemon, organic preferred
hot water, approximately 2 cups
bowl or dish with high sides
natural fiber cloth, rag, or wash cloth
wool flannel or felt (I used part of an old felted sweater)
sick child (an adult would work too)

1. Heat your water until just below a simmer. You can do this directly from the sink if your tap can get quite hot. You can use a pot on the stove, an electric tea kettle, etc. Please avoid using a microwave for this step. I used my stove top and heated the water until I just started to see little bubbles at the bottom of the pot, which is technically a saucepan, but I still call it a pot.

making a lemon compress for cough and colds natural remedy

2. Next, you will want to cut your lemon in half width-wise. Take this half and place it cut side up.

Hello little lemon. You smell nice.

Hello little lemon. You smell nice.

Then, taking your knife, cut across the lemon’s face to divide the lemon into eight sections. Try to cut through the lemon flesh and peel, avoiding the divisions between the segments. Extend the cuts about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way down the height of the lemon so that the pieces remain attached. That sounds complicated, right? It’s not. A picture will make this much clearer.

crunchy parent lemon compress tutorial

3. Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, pour the water into a bowl or better yet a high-sided, shallow dish. Then place the lemon face down in the water and smoosh it down using your hand or the back of a spoon if it is too hot to tolerate doing with your hand. The lemon should splay out like a flower. Really squash it to release the juice and the volatile essential oils from the peel.

lemon compress for natural cough and cold relief

4. Take your natural fiber cloth or rag and soak it in the lemon water.

rag soaking in lemon water for compress

Wring out the cloth until it is no longer dripping wet. Check the temperature of the cloth to make sure that it will not be too hot for your child’s skin. If it is too hot, wave it around gently in the air for a few seconds until it has cooled enough. It will cool pretty quickly.

lemon compress

5. Fold cloth to a manageable size and place it on the child’s chest and throat area, avoiding their nipples. I folded my wash cloth into thirds lengthwise and then folded up the length a bit. I placed this in the center of the chest in between the nipples to avoid irritation. Then, cover the wet cloth with the wool flannel or piece of felted wool. This will contain the moisture and help hold in warmth. Whenever we get holes in a wool sweater, I felt the sweaters and cut lengths to use with compresses.

Placement of lemon compress and wool cover.

Placement of lemon compress and wool cover.

You can then reposition the child’s shirt back over the wool to help hold everything in place. I cover the child with a warm blanket (unless they are feverish and uncomfortably hot) and encourage the child to engage in a restful activity like reading a book. They usually opt to watch TV, which I let them do because they’re sick and crabby.

6. After five minutes, check the cloth. If it has grown cold, apply a new compress (you can reheat the water a bit and wet the same rag again). Continue to check and refresh the compress for a total of approximately fifteen minutes. This process can be repeated several times throughout the day as needed.

When doing the compress, you may find that the skin shows a bit of redness or a slight rash. This is usually not cause for concern, rather it may indicate action beneath the skin, which is good. However if significant irritation, burning, or general discomfort arises, discontinue use and wash the area to remove the acidulated water. Likewise, avoid applying the compress to skin that is cracked, chapped, broken, or otherwise compromised.

For more information about anthroposophy as it relates to health and wellness, the doctor who taught me about this compress recommended the book, Practical Home Care Medicine. I personally am not an anthroposophist nor have not read the book. I cannot comment with respect to the suggestions that it makes. Since the anthroposophic perspective is a relatively esoteric one however, I wanted to provide the resource for those who may be interested in learning more.

What are some of your favorite natural remedies to help support health during the cold and dark months ahead?

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Barganic Alert! Wildcraft Cooperative Board Game for Kids on Sale through Saturday

Once each spring, LearningHerbs, the online herbal learning resource, opens up its Herb Fairies book series and learning program. The children and I signed up this past April and have been thoroughly enjoying reading the story of each month’s herb fairy. Asher in particular loves the books and I marvel at how well he remembers the names, stories, and herbal benefits associated with each herb fairy.

Asher's coloring sheet of Arc, the Burdock Fairy. We completed reading the story yesterday.

Asher’s coloring sheet of Arc, the Burdock Fairy. We completed reading the story yesterday.

The kids delight in being able to identify herbs growing wild all around us as we walk through our neighborhood, play in the back yard, or look around at their school. It has been such a nice way to instill an awareness, appreciation, and reverence for plant medicine that is abundant in our environment.

Wildcraft cooperative board game from LearningHerbs

Although the Herb Fairies program will not be available again until next spring, LearningHerbs is currently offering a limited time sale on Wildcraft, their Herbal Adventure cooperative board game for kids. Like the Herb Fairies books, the board game focuses on herbs and combines fun, cooperation, and education to teach children about herbs and their medicinal uses as well as ethical wildcrating, all while working together to achieve a goal (in this case, gathering huckleberries and returning to grandmother’s house before nightfall so that she can bake a pie).

Our family has always preferred cooperative games to competitive “winner” and “loser” games, especially for young children so this is a great fit for us. The artwork on the game looks beautiful and the game had great reviews on Amazon as well. I know that the kids will love playing it. I actually purchased it back in July when LearningHerbs was promoting a similar sale on the game. I have been keeping it tucked away for the fast-approaching holidays. I imagine that the kids will be excited to receive a game that will continue to expand their understanding and appreciation of herbs, and it will be nice for them to have a cooperative game to play during the break when we all have more time at home together.

The current promotion runs through Friday November 20th. The game price is reduced to $19.99 plus shipping and adds a bunch of fantastic bonuses to sweeten the deal, including a webinar with Aviva Romm, How to Make Rootbeer video (which Alina is super excited about), Herbal Roots Zine Kids Activity Magazine, Mentoring Kids & Nature Connection with Jon Young (mp3), and the Herb Fairies Activity Pack, and an e-book from herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt to support children’s health during cold & flu season

So, are you going to grab one? I can’t wait for ours to open ours and start playing.

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services (and here’s why). They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure that you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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Mindfulness Box Zen Lifestyle Subscription Unboxing & Review: November 2015

Mindfulness Box

Mindfulness Box is a lifestyle subscription service aimed at promoting mindfulness, inner peace and balance by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the present moment. This lifestyle box includes holistic and homeopathic, essential oil, and mineral based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals and more. Each box contains 4-5 items accompanied with guided dialogue to enrich the recipient’s journey to balance and inner peace. Boxes cost $29.00 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions. Use code CRUNCHY10 for 10% off of your order.

Mindfulness Box graciously sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own. See more of my Mindfulness Box reviews here.

Asher and Alina have become my regular Mindfulness Box unboxing sidekicks. They love to see what interesting, useful, and tasty items will be included in the box. You can watch us unbox and discover, or if you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with the sunny, smiling Mindfulness Box symbol and “Present Moment. Beautiful Moment” message to set the tone to best appreciate the contents. Everything arrived to me safely and intact.

Mindfulness Box November unboxign & review

As always, Mindfulness Box included an enclosure card listing the contents along with descriptions and values, as well as suggestions for how to integrate the items into our life in a way that would promote mindfulness. We set the card aside so that we could discover the items on our own, but referenced it at the end to help us learn about what Mindfulness Box had curated for this month. This month’s theme was focused on gratitude, a perfect message for November when we shift our intention more mindfully to giving thanks.

Mindfulness box serpentine palm stone & heart chakra meditation

Alina had asked to be the first to unwrap an item from the box. She discovered a smooth, polished green stone. In reading the enclosure, we discovered that the stone was a serpentine palm crystal; perfect for carrying in a pocket or holding in one’s hand during meditation (value, $7.50). Mindfulness Box described serpentine as being excellent for meditation and associated with the heart chakra. They also included a heart chakra guided meditation activity.

Mindfulness box custom grateful tea towel

Asher wanted to find the next item in the box, and chose to take out a white tea towel that had been embellished with a stamped mandala design and the word “grateful” as well as the Mindfulness Box logo (value, $14.00). I really liked the unique design of this Mindfulness Box custom item. I do a lot of fermenting and culturing and often need to cover jars with a tea towel to protect my ferments from dust or critters while allowing air to circulate freely.

kombucha infusing with gratitude-mindfulness box

This tea towel was perfect for covering my most recent batch of kombucha. It made me think of Marasu Emoto’s work investigating the relationship between focused intention and water crystal formation. Although the science is dubious, I figure that it cannot hurt to infuse my kombucha and other ferments with a little positive energy and gratitude while they culture.

Mindfulness box gratitude pocket journal

Building on the theme of gratitude, Mindfulness Box sent a pocket-sized, softcover, gratitude journal; custom made as an exclusive for this box (value, $6.00). The journal included a number of writing prompts to reflect on gratitude and blessings, as well as inspiring quotes about gratitude.

Mindfulness box gratitude journal sample page November box

I look forward to using this journal for my own reflections as well as using the prompts to serve as conversation starters during dinner or discussion times with the kids this month. Rich and I often talk about gratitude and how to practice gratefulness in our life as a way to bring about greater happiness. This journal will be a welcomed addition to our practice.

Mindfulness Box Zenbunni chocolate & yo soy candle Grateful

Alina showed off the Zenbunni Spirit Weavers Chocolate Bar as her next selection (value, $3.00). We have gotten to sample several Zenbunni bars through subscription boxes and have become familiar with their high-quality, full-bodied chocolates. The Spirit Weavers bar commemorates the Spirit Weavers gathering that brings together women from around the world annually to practice and share skills that support the body and spirit such as fermenting, dyeing, and herbal medicine making. The biodynamic bar blends hibiscus, elder flowers, and blood orange with cacao and cane jaggery to give a delicious boost to the immune system. I enjoyed the hint of fruitiness balanced by the rich and slightly bitter chocolate.

Zenbunni Spirit Weavers chocolate bar Mindfulness Box

The final item, uncovered by Asher, was a Yo Soy “I am Grateful” soy candle in a sweet orange and chili pepper fragrance (4 oz., value, $8.00) I did not see this scent on the Yo Soy site, but they had many other tempting fragrances available. As is obvious in the video, my kids are very used to having little glass jars of homemade salves all around the house, which is why Asher kept trying to dig his finger into the candle (fortunately without success). As much as I love salves, I was happy that this was in fact a candle. I find that with the darker days in the fall and winter months, I am lighting candles more for meditation, during a relaxing bath, or to create a quiet tone within the house. I was delighted to have this candle to add into the mix, and I loved the fresh orange scent that was balanced with just a hint of spice from the pepper. According to Mindfulness Box, the candle is meant to align you with your intention of gratitude.

Mindfulness full November Box Unboxing & review; zen meditation, chocolate, crystals, gratitude

The overall value of this month’s box according to the retail values provided was $38.50. This is a good value relative to the box price, and a significant increase over last month’s box value. I know that I will use every item in the box, as well as the meditation and gratitude practices. I find that the longer that I have been receiving subscription boxes, the more I have come to appreciate item utility and goodness of fit with my lifestyle over straight retail price. After all, the ultimate value is in the perceived utility to me, not a theoretical number. I very much liked the gratefulness theme; it is one that is not just popular at this time of year, but is very much in keeping with Mindfulness Box’s year-round mission. I like that Mindfulness Box consistently sends a nice balance of items for home, for self, and for emotional and spiritual wellness.

What are your thoughts about Mindfulness Box? Do you appreciate reminders and practices to promote gratitude in your life?

To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find them on my ULTIMATE list, recently updated for fall. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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TBT: The Cancer Series-Part 6 (The One Where Radiation Tries to Ruin the Valentine’s Day party)

Crunchy Parent- Alina's preschool valentine's party & my last week of radiation

If you want to read earlier posts from the Cancer Series or learn more about why I am posting these personal blog posts years later, you can do that here. This particular excerpt comes from the private blog that I maintained through MyLifeLine.org at the time surrounding my cancer diagnosis and treatment. It highlights the emotional and logistical struggles that I was moving through at the time as I tried to be present as a mom to my three young children while fighting cancer in my spare time.

This entry was originally published on February 16, 2011 following my 24th round of radiation.

Tomorrow (Thursday) will be my final day of radiation. It was supposed to be today but that whole blizzard snow thing a couple weeks ago pushed it back a day. I can’t say that it’s coming too soon. I’ve been exhausted once again this week. From what I understand the radiation, or at least the way they’re doing the radiation for me, builds up over time so that the largest doses of radiation are reserved for the end. I’d have to say that it feels that way. On Valentine’s Day, my beloved valentine put the kids to bed and took care of all of the other nighttime tasks while I crawled into bed at 7:00 pm and slept clear through to 6:00 the next morning. I still woke up feeling like someone had filled my body with sand.

Actually, Valentine’s Day was it’s own little comedy of errors, although in the end it was delightful. Alina had a party in her classroom at 10:30, which is of course not too compatible with my 10:15 radiation time. Knowing this, several weeks back I changed this one and only treatment to 9:30 so that I could make the party. I even anticipated the whole “Monday meet with doctor day thing” and asked about pushing my sit down with Dr. Radiation to Tuesday this week. Sadly no change could be made because she was not going to be in this Tuesday. She promised instead that we would make it a quick meeting. In truth, our check-ins usually are pretty quick, but last week she was running crazy late and I sat around waiting for almost an hour before they told me to just go home and try back the next day. I was a bit anxious tacking the appointment on to what was already going to be a day when I was tight on time.

Anyway, I got to the Cancer Center at 9:30 on Monday, only to be told that my radiation machine was down and was being repaired. Now, it’s not exactly my machine or I assure you that I would have already received the bill for seven million dollars, but radiation is a pretty exacting process. I do need to have my treatment done using the same machine every day. I also have five little permanent black tattoos scattered across my legs and a custom mold to navigate my lower half into on the radiation machine so that they can position my body in the absolute same way every time. There is no “close enough” when it comes to this whole radiation game, so when I heard that the machine was down, my heart sunk. It was not helped much when the tech said, “We thought for sure that they’d be ready by the time that you arrived, but we were wrong.” (evidently).

I hung out in my hospital gown for a bit and then the tech ran in and said that they were going to use a different machine. She said that it used different films but that the doctor had approved it, so I was good to go. I did not really feel good to go on the different machine with the different films (I want to do cancer just right, thank you very much). The Universe must have sensed my hesitation because as the tech was walking me to the different machine all the other techs started shouting, “No No No! He’s done. She can get on the other machine!” So the tech leads me back to my machine and I jump on. She starts to get me all positioned and another tech comes over the intercom and says that they haven’t calibrated the machine for the day yet so I need to jump off, and it will be about ten more minutes. I am crying inside. On any other day I could roll with this, but all I can think of right now is sweet, little Alina excited for her mama to come to her party, and I can’t get there because, cancer.

At this point the tech takes me to see Dr. Radiation so that I can at least get the appointment part out of the way while they ready the machine. As I’m waiting to be seen by her I borrow the phone (because I’m in a hospital gown this whole time with my phone locked up in the Women’s Changing Room). I make a quick call to school to relay the message to Alina’s teacher that I will be late, I just don’t know how late. I’m having visions of a very disappointed Alina when all of the parents file into the classroom and her mommy just isn’t there.

I meet with Dr. Radiation who is aware of my tight party schedule. I’m trying to figure out some way that I might be able to run over to the 10:30-12:30 party, drop Alina off at home with Rich and Asher after school, scoot back to radiation, and then back home to get the kids to hightail it back to school by Eva’s class party at 2pm. I really don’t think that there’s any way for me to make the pieces fit. Dr. Radiation suggests that if I can’t make it work they can just skip my treatment today and add another day on at the end of my run. I don’t even want to wrap my brain around moving this much-anticipated radiation finish line back another day, but it’s really a non-issue. I am scheduled to be done with my radiation treatments on Thursday and I already have my follow-up MRI and CT scan scheduled for Friday morning so that I can have the results in time to meet with my surgical oncologist next week (sigh).

Dr. Radiation gives me the once over. This is our last official weekly appointment. From here, we just cross our fingers and hope that it did what it was supposed to do. Dr. Radiation says that she wants to see me again 4-6 weeks post-op, and gives me a farewell hug. The tech scoops me up and runs me back to the machine while telling me that they have only done my “energies” on the machine but that at least it’s ready for me. I have no idea what the first part means, but I understand the “ready” part and so I hop on. They do what they do and I’m changed and running out to my car in a flash, which is no easy task because my leg really hurts these days. In all, I left the Cancer Center approximately five minutes earlier than I would have on any other day when I hadn’t moved my appointment up 45 minutes (best laid plans…).

The running was worth it. Despite my racing heart and knotted stomach, my sweet girl was sitting in a circle with her friends as the teacher ushered them through a singing game. I made it to school in time to see Alina skip around the circle of her peers as a little pink blur with her braided pigtails bouncing and her smile beaming as everyone sang “A Tisket, A Tasket.”

A Tisket, A Tasket.....Alina skips around the circle to put a valentine in a friend's basket

A Tisket, A Tasket…..Alina skips around the circle to deliver a valentine to a friend’s basket

After the song we ate fruit salad from the shared party goodies and some gluten free banana bread that I had baked and brought to the party to share. I got to spend time with her while she played outside, watching her run and seeing her smile framed by rosy, wind-kissed cheeks. We came home for a quick lunch, and then were back at school again to enjoy more fun and games at Eva’s party before returning home for the remainder of the day, which I can now scarcely remember due to the exhausted stupor.

Party #2 with Eva's class

Party #2 with Eva’s class

All things being equal, it was a pretty successful Valentine’s Day. Last year the girls and I spent the entirety of Valentine’s Day in bed. They were both home from school with whooping cough, and I was on week 19 of my bed rest stint with Asher’s pregnancy. They missed their class parties and valentines from friends, and I couldn’t have come to school for their parties even if they had been there. By comparison, this year was a step up, I guess. Next year I’m aiming for total health and well-being for us all, and maybe five conscious minutes with my husband to wish him a happy day too.

My sweet boy's first Valentine's Day outside the womb.

My sweet boy’s first Valentine’s Day outside the womb.

So in summary: Radiation=tired. Almost done. MRI and CT on Friday to see how things look following the radiation. Meet with my surgeon next Wed (the 23rd).

Anticipated needs for assistance in the near future: 1. if anyone is coming up this way from the St. Louis area and can bring a cooler of milk from our donor, that would save us a really long drive; 2. our school carpool partners are going to be out of the country for the first half of March, which will also encompass my surgery date. If any of our school friends wouldn’t mind dropping Eva off at our house at the end of the school day at any point from 3/1-3/15, that would be a big help to cut down on multiple trips to/from school. All the driving and coming and going with Asher and Alina in tow really saps my energy (see above) and also requires me to wake Asher up from his naps every day.

Thanks all!

So today’s video is a flash mob, because I have a bizarre fascination with them. I know that it’s a bit late on the notice, but if someone wants to organize the doctors, techs, and other patients at the Cancer Center to bust out into a flash mob tomorrow when I finish treatment, it might just make the whole five weeks worth it….After surgery, I’ll be tumor free. No cancer for me…….

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